The flight from London to Mexico
Was entirely forgettable. I was so exhausted from the previous day in London that I slept through most of the flight itself – I even missed a meal (!) – and woke in time for breakfast. Which, frankly, in the context of all the preceding airline food from Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines, was terrible. Awful. But never mind – it can’t all be sunshine and roses and Aeromexico was our most economic and direct option from London to Mexico by FAR.
The airport at Mexico City was old-school and inefficient. This is where we encountered our longest yet immigration queue and also our most nervous wait. We had a return flight booked to London, sure, but our stay of 3 months did seem – to us – somewhat excessive and likely to inspire questions. That and also the fact that we didn’t speak much Spanish so any questions were going to be difficult to answer. So we clutched our passports and papers and waited for over an hour in line to see the immigration officer – being disheartened by the sight of one English-speaking couple being turned away at various counters and sent off into the bowels of the building for goodness knows what. After the news reports, official travel warnings, and ‘advice’ we’d read about safety in Mexico we were just a little on edge. But then, after what seemed like an age, we were called up to the counter… and had our passports stamped and… were waved off in a matter of a minute or so. OMG what a relief! I think we even hugged each other in joy to have reached our final destination with such little fuss along the way!! And the best bit? We were given a visa for 180 days – not 90! So six months of holiday (at LEAST!) Woo hoo!! Viva la Mexico!!
After a disproportionately large drama connecting to the airport wifi and then getting an Uber driver to pick us up from the Terminal – we finally set off into the city itself, which at 7am in the morning – was BUSY! The roads we’re jam packed with cars lurching about lit up and blaring. The police cars here have their lights flashing constantly – probably so people are well alerted to their presence – but the sight gave an impression of constant danger so set us on edge. The tense traffic, crumpling facades, rubbly-sidewalks, early morning lifting darkness and damp from what must have been a shower the previous night, gave the city a gloomy and decrepit feel that really didn’t seem at all inviting, and when our Uber dropped us off on a dark and un-populated street – insisting that was our address, we were not feeling the safest. We both wondered what on earth we’d got ourselves into but charged ahead and knocked on the gate of what looked the most likely building and did our level best to ask the guards if we were at the right address.. Turns out we were, and after handing over my ID (gave them the old driver’s license being paranoid about my passport) we were let into the hidden interior of the complex – which was clean and crisp white green and dark wood, and taken up to our Airbnb apartment on the top floor – in a very shiny lift. The moment we saw the inside of that gate we felt better. This WAS the place shown in the pictures, and we had made it to our temporary home after all!
Our dear host woke up (I think it might have been 7:45am by then) and bleary-eyed welcomed us to her home and showed us around. The whole time we were just amazed at our luck to have such a wonderful space open to us.. it was clean, bright, beautifully, thoughtfully, artistically decorated and best of all – there was a terrace on the roof with a hammock where one could see right over all of Mexico City. Mariana’s apartment was amazing and the best possible welcome to Mexico City we could have hoped for. I still look back at that place with a warm white light surrounding my memories of it. Mariana’s artsy nature had blessed her with an eye for decorating that is unmatched in my experience so far.. Fascinating books, colour, art and objects everywhere – but most importantly – a sense of warmth and welcome. I would be lucky if I could one day, set up a home like that one.
Over the next two weeks we explored the city and our impression of it being a dark, frantic and slightly dangerous place fell away completely. Mexico City, or what little we saw of it, is wonderful and full of character. I’m sure it would be dangerous if you were careless or offensive but what city wouldn’t? Like our host said – be respectful, be careful, and you will enjoy your time 🙂